Close to 2,000 squatters appeal to Uhuru for resettlement

About 2,000 squatters evicted from Mt Kenya forest nearly three decades ago have appealed to President Uhuru Kenyatta to intervene so that they are resettled.

The squatters were thrown out of Kahurura and Gathiuru forests on the slopes of Mt Kenya in 1989.

They said they have made numerous appeals to government ministries and political leaders and have only been getting empty promises.

“When the president visited Nyeri county last month and ordered for the resettlement of people who have been living in colonial villages, we were sidelined because our leaders never bothered to present our case to the President,” Peter Thitu, the group’s spokesperson, said.

Ruth Wanjiku, a 94-year-old granny, said their houses were set ablaze and they spent days on the roadside before they sought refuge at a relative’s home.

“Why did the government discriminate against us when it resettled those who were evicted from Hombe, Chehe forests and later gave them land at Solio?” Wanjiku asked.

A letter from the Ministry of Lands dated May 15 this year advises the squatters to register with the National Consultative and Coordination Committee (NCCC) in the Ministry of Interior and Coordination of National Government.

Thitu said even after registering with the Interior Ministry, nothing positive has been forthcoming.

They on Saturday protested over their exclusion in the government’s resettlement plan of the landless in Nyeri and Laikipia counties.

Squatters from nine villages in Mathira, Kieni and Othaya sub-counties were considered by the two groups were left out in unclear circumstances.

The affected families are currently living in squalid conditions in temporary structures near on the foot of Mt Kenya.

In 2009, through the intervention of then First Lady Lucy Kibaki, the government hived off some 25,000 acres from the expansive Solio Ranch to settle hundreds of people evicted from Mt Kenya forest and were residing on road reserves.

However, only 15,000 acres was utilised in resettling 3,990 families.

“We were informed that the remaining 10,000 acres was meant to resettle our group which comprises of squatters from Kahurura and Gathiuru villages near Nanyuki Town but which administratively lies in Nyeri county,” Thitu said.

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